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The Queen and Duke hand in hand

By Colin O'Carroll

Hand in hand, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh make their way down the steps of St Paul's Cathedral after leading tributes to the 453 men and women who died during the conflict in Afghanistan.

In one hand the Queen, resplendent in a teal coat and matching hat, clutches a posy of flowers. The other hand is gripped tightly by her husband, dressed in his Royal Navy uniform, as they negotiate the steep steps together.

It's a rare display of public affection by the royal couple, who will celebrate 68 years of marriage later this year. But it's also a glimpse of the pair's mutual support and vulnerability. Given their stoicism and recovery from illness in recent years, it's sometimes easy to forget that the Queen is 88 while Prince Philip is 93.

The couple were among the guests who attended yesterday's service to mark the end of the 13-year combat operations against the Taliban.

Prince Harry, who served two tours during the conflict, also attended the service, along with his brother Prince William, his heavily-pregnant wife Kate, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.

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